Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, “A Triumph and a Tragedy,” is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to Catholic Answers Magazine, and a weekly guest on “Catholic Answers Live.”
Medjugorje Today is reporting that Pope Francis has made his decision regarding the reported apparitions at Medjugorje, though the results have not been announced.
Here are 7 things to know and share . . .
1) What is the source of the claim?
Fr. Kevin Devine, an American priest who has said English-language Masses in Medjugorje for a number of years made the claim after such a Mass on June 25th.
2) Where did he get his information?
From Fr. Miljenko Steko, the Franciscan provincial of the territory in which Medjugorje is located.
3) What did he say?
According to Medjugorje Today:
“Recently, the Provincial of the Franciscans here in Medjugorje (Fr. Miljenko Steko, ed.) was in Rome for a meeting of Superiors of religious communities. In the course of that stay in Rome, he along with so many others had a few moments personally with Pope Francis” Fr. Kevin Devine began his account of Fr. Miljenko Steko’s meeting with the Pope.
“Pope Francis was standing there, welcoming them, and the Provincial said ”I am the Provincial of the area in which Medjugorje is located.” And the Holy Father’s response was: ”Pray that I have made the right decision”. And we are happy for that and we continue to pray that his decision will be announced soon, and of course we are sure that his discernment and his decision-making is guided especially by the Holy Spirit. But keep those prayers going” Fr. Kevin Devine continued.
4) How reliable is this report?
It is difficult to say. There have been reports before, including before Pope Benedict resigned, that a decision had been made, but thus far no decision has been announced.
It is worth noting that the information is being reported third-hand. Rather than a statement from Pope Francis, we have it at two removes, and that is reason for caution.
On the other hand, the request for prayer is characteristic of Pope Francis.
It could be true. We’ll have to wait and see.
UPDATE: At this point, it appears to be NOT true.
Medjugorje Today has retracted, indicating that Fr. Steko--the Franciscan provincial who was the alleged source of the information--denies that the incident took place:
“I am genuinely surprised by Fr. Kevin [Devine]’s statements. I do not know where he got that interpretation for I have personally never made such statements” he tells Medjugorje Today.
I take this as yet another confirmation of the need to be cautious and take a "wait and see" attitude regarding anything a pope is alleged to have said in private.
5) Does the reported statement give us an indication of what Pope Francis’s decision is?
No. If the quotation is accurate, it’s deliberately neutral. I would resist the temptation to read anything into it.
6) What is the background to this? What decision is being talked about?
For those who may not have been following the story, in 2010 Benedict XVI called a special commission to investigate the apparitions that have been reported in connection with Medjugorje (in the former Yugoslavia) since 1981.
Earlier this year, the commission reportedly finished its work and turned over its findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for evaluation.
The Congregation was then expected to report to Pope Francis, who would make a final determination of what, if anything, should be done.
Options could include reaffirming prior, local rulings on the validity of the apparitions or establishing a new position regarding their validity.
7) What should people do at this point?
Wait and pray that Pope Francis’s decision, whatever it may be, is the right one.
Fr. Devine’s counsel on that point is good.
I would recommend praying that people on both sides of the issue, as well as those who do not have a definite position, pray that the Pope’s decision will be right and true—not that it reflect what we personally would like.
The truth is more important than our personal preferences, whatever they may be.
I would also suggest prayer for everyone who will be affected by the decision, both positively and negatively.
No matter what decision he ultimately announces (if any), it will not be received well by some.
People on both sides of the issue should ask themselves, “What if the decision does not go in my preferred direction? How will I react?”
This story thus provides an occasion for all of us to renew—in advance—our fidelity to the Church and to make a determination not to let any future announcement damage our relationship with the Church.
As always, private revelation may play a role in helping people live out the public revelation that Christ deposited with his Church, but it is public revelation that must remain primary for us.
The question of whether a particular apparition is or is not valid must remain secondary.
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In the meantime, what do you think?